New Hilton Garden hotel in Flint faces economic challenges

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 6:58 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/30/2020) - After 3 years of development and refurbishing, an old building comes back to life as a new hotel in downtown Flint.

The Hilton Garden Inn hopes to fill a void in downtown hotel space.

But, it faces many challenges, including economic head-winds from this pandemic

Once the home of Genesee County Savings Bank in the 1920s, this eleven story building has been transformed into Flint’s premier downtown hotel.

“After having housing and retail and business in downtown Flint, you know, we needed a hotel," said Uptown Reinvestment Corporation President Tim Herman. "We needed a place for people when they come in to visit.”

But, other downtown hotel ventures haven’t done so well in the past.

The Hyatt Regency was built in the early 1980s.

That turned into the Character Inn in 2000.

The space in now a residence facility for UM Flint students.

So, what could make this venture more successful?

“Other hotels in the community in the past have been big. They’ve been 350 rooms. This is 101 rooms. It’s sort of a boutique hotel. We feel that it’s the right size, and with small conventions, we do have space for 200 people,” added Herman.

According to the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, county occupancy rates have fallen due to the pandemic, coming in at nearly 57%, for the third quarter, down over 9% from last year.

However, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley is still enthusiastic, not just for this hotel, but the city’s overall economic development, even with the decrease in rooms being filled.

“It’s going to do very well. The city of Flint is what I call in a “cocooning” stage. It’s going to come out much better as a byproduct of all the great work that’s going on in the downtown area. We have many growing businesses.”

The Hilton Garden Inn officially opens on Monday.

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